“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt sure knew what she was talking about. While she couldn’t have been more right, wouldn’t it be nice to not be put in hot water to prove our strength? Since it’s Women’s Equality Day, we figured this is a conversation that’s much needed.
We all know Eleanor Roosevelt played a huge role in advocating for women’s rights in the 1920s as part of the women’s suffrage movement. Yes, women now have the right to vote and we’ve come a long way since then, but there’s still such a long way to go. Did you know that in this day and age, women still make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people?
COVID-19 has especially brought to the forefront what it’s like to be a female entrepreneur in Canada. Most businesses, including those that are majority-owned by women, managed to make their rent and mortgage payment this year. However, 9.8% of businesses, majority-owned by women, reported that their request for a deferral of payments was denied, which is almost double the percentage for all businesses (5.7%) who reported the same. It’s like growing up with a sibling and realizing your parents loved them a lot more than they did you.
Women entrepreneurs also don’t make as much money as male entrepreneurs although the gap appears to be closing. In fact, Canadian women who start businesses make 58% less than their male counterparts.
From entrepreneurship to STEM studies, women are still a minority in many fields. We need more women in leadership roles to achieve gender equality, yet there’s a huge imbalance in professional and political roles:
- Although Canada’s federal cabinet is now evenly split between men and women, only 27% of the seats in the House of Commons belong to women.
- Women make up 19.5% of the board members for Canada’s top 500 companies.
- Sadly, just 8.5% of the highest-paid positions in Canada’s top 100 listed companies are held by women.
At Evolve Business Advisory, we work with plenty of kick-ass women. More than half of our staff are female and they’re some of the best and the brightest we’ve ever seen. We’re also proud to work with our female clients and partners, like Wee Sleep, a woman-owned business founded by Janey Reilly, who’s empowering women and moms around the world to take charge of their entrepreneurial spirit.
Anyway, on this monumental day, we wanted to give a shoutout to some of the women in the world we hugely admire for their work ethic, accomplishments, ideals, and passion. Let’s talk about some of the women who are killing it in 2020:
- Kamala Harris, Democratic vice presidential nominee for the 2020 election
Kamala Harris is making waves right now and is a role model for women everywhere, especially women of color. She is the first African-American, the first Asian-American, and the third female vice presidential running mate on a major party ticket after Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin. Harris ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and attracted We all know politics is a dirty game, but as a woman, particularly one of color, who has made it to the top, Kamala has shown that anything’s possible if you dream it. She’s an inspiration to young women everywhere.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, representative for New York’s 14th congressional district
Alexandria, aka AOC, is hands-down killing it. She took office at age 29, and is the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress. As a supporter of blue collar workers and middle class Americans, Alexandria advocates progressive policies that include Medicare for All, a federal jobs guarantee, the Green New Deal, and abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She is also among the first female members of the Democratic Socialists of America elected to serve in Congress. Alexandria is loved by millennials. Unlike most politicians, she had no wealthy funders backing her up or supporting her campaign. Through pure grassroot efforts, she raised the money and support to get her to where she is today, which is remarkable.
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, United States Supreme Court justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg will go down in history as a legend. She is an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Ginsburg spent a large part of her legal career advocating for the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights, winning multiple arguments before the Supreme Court, at a time when women’s equality was more regressive than it is now. Ruth was nominated by President Bill Clinton and has served since August 10, 1993. Ginsburg became the second of four female justices to be confirmed to the Court after Sandra Day O’Connor. Currently, she is the only female justice on the Supreme Court.
- Greta Thunberg, climate activist
Greta Thungberg is an environmental activist from Sweden who’s internationally recognized for her view that humanity is facing an existential crisis due to climate change. When she was just 15 years old, she started spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger action on climate change, gaining supporters from the youth population. She’s only 17 years old now, but has already received numerous honours and awards including: honorary Fellowship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society; Time magazine’s “100 most influential people” and the youngest “Time Person of the Year”; inclusion in the Forbes list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” (2019) and two consecutive nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize (2019 and 2020). Now we know for sure…age really is just a number.
- Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
The world already knows a lot about Sheryl Sandberg. She is the chief operating officer (COO) of Facebook and the founder of LeanIn.Org. In June 2012, she was elected to Facebook’s board of directors. Before she joined Facebook, Sandberg was vice president of global online sales and operations at Google, and was involved in its philanthropic arm Google.org. 1.8 billion, due to her stock holdings in Facebook and other companies. Her most influential work is her books, starting with Lean In, which encourages women to take charge of their careers and life. Thanks to Sheryl, women around the world have started asking for their worth and leaning into opportunities. US$1.8 billion, due to her stock holdings in Facebook and other companies. Her most influential work is her books, starting with Lean In, which encourages women to take charge of their careers and life. Thanks to Sheryl, women around the world have started asking for their worth and leaning into opportunities.
- Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of the General Motors Company
Mary Barra has served as GM’s CEO since 2014. GM has ranked amazingly for its gender equality practices — it’s one of only two global businesses that has no gender pay gap, according to Forbes. Barra is the first female CEO of GM, and the first woman to lead a major automaker. In 2018, Barra earned $21.9 million, the highest compensation of any leader of a Detroit Big Three automaker. Hey, if anyone tries to throw a gender stereotype at you again, let them know that women know their way around cars, too.
- Shonda Rhimes, award-winning writer and producer
As the showrunner, Shonda Rhimes is responsible for the hit shows Grey’s Anatomy, its spin-off Private Practice, and the political thriller series Scandal. Additionally, she served as the executive producer for How to Get Away with Murder, among other shows. She has been shaping the television industry in terms of strong female leads and casting people of color in diverse roles, supporting minorities and the LGBTQ community. In 2007, Rhimes was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 People Who Help Shape the World.” We personally live Shonda for overcoming taboos and taking the lead in casting diverse actors and writing LGBTQ-friendly storylines, breaking the stigma.
- Ruth Porat, CFO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet
Porat is not only one of the few women in a leadership position, but she’s also just a few top female executives who participated in the Google Walkout for Real Change, which protested incidents and mishandling of sexual harassment and misconduct. She has been very vocal on the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace. We need more women like her to speak up on behalf of women in workplaces everywhere.
9. Mandy Rennehan, Founder of FreshCo
At just the age of 20, Mandy Rennehan founded Freshco, which is a full-service 24/7 retail maintenance provider covering all of Canada and the east coast of the United States of America. She’s the first female in a male dominated industry and her clients include companies like Apple, Gap, Nike, Tiffany & Co etc. She’s constantly encouraging more women to be entrepreneurs as she paves the way for them.
10. Tonia Jahshan, Founder of Steeped Tea
In 2015, Tonia was listed as one of “Six Entrepreneurial Women to Watch” by Forbes Magazine and she has definitely proven why. Founded in 2006, Steeped Tea began as as small business, but has since then turned into a massive empire with over 20 million dollars in revenue. She embraces her role as an influencer to encourage other women to follow their passion and find the entrepreneurial spirit within them.
With this list, we’re barely scratching the surface of what women can do. There are plenty more successful, savvy, and empowering women out there that we can learn from and we hope that this Women’s Equality Day, you set goals for yourself and accomplish all that and more in the future. Do you know any badass women who’re making their mark in the world right now? Let us know! We’d love to learn about them and see how we can support their endeavors.